Maurizio Massari, Italy’s permanent representative to the European Union, wrote an opinion piece for Politico Europe Tuesday evening publicly shaming fellow EU states for their failure to help, and once again asking them to come together. Instead, European countries are banning the exportation of face masks and other medical equipment needed to deal with the crisis. Germany's health minister, quoted by Politico, argued that this was necessary: “The market is such at present that masks are not going where [they're most] urgently needed, it’s where people pay most money for them.”
This is absurd. First of all, if Germany's government is really so worried about masks not getting where they're needed (as opposed to covering its own backside), they can donate masks to the Italians, can't they? This complaint about profiteering is really just cover for their own fearful selfishness. Maybe Germany is worried about becoming the next Italy, but that isn't the excuse they're giving. They're hiding behind the immorality of profiteering as if that were the real motive.
And it may be perfectly understandable for Germany to want to protect its own national interest in a time of crisis, but it runs counter to the entire concept of the EU that we've been hearing so much about during the debate over Brexit. Member states are supposed to benefit by putting aside their own selfish needs. French President Emmanuel Macron has called for an even more united post-Brexit EU. What happened to that? Right now, his government is seizing control of masks throughout France. I haven't seen anything about them ending up in Italy.
[David Freddoso, "Amid Pandemic, Italy Finds That EU Stands for 'Europeans Useless,'" Washington Examiner, March 12]